Oh, is that what "Roman fool" means?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070831/ap_on_fe_st/odd_et_tu_brutus A man playing Brutus paused and excused himself, saying “I seem to have stabbed myself” in Aspen during an outdoor performance of “Scenes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar” on Wednesday. “Actors normally don’t use real knives…but I hadn’t thought an actor might stab himself,” the director said. Brutus was taken to the hospital by Portia (nice wife) for stitches.  Who knows, maybe while she’s there she can be treated for the whole “swallow’d fire” thing.

Shakespeare Comes To McDuffie. How Quaint!

http://mirror.augusta.com/stories/083007/com_141764.shtml I’m sorry, maybe I’m the only one that finds this article amusing.  It’s about the director for a little community theatre somewhere in Southtown (it never says the state — South Carolina, maybe?) putting on some Shakespeare. It starts out with a quote from The Tempest, but they’re actually doing Midsummer’s.  Perhaps the author could have started out with “What fools these mortals be” instead? 🙂 Reasons why they chose this play (direct from the article):

  • Since it’s Shakespearean, it’s public domain and she doesn’t have to pay royalties.
  • It’s a comedy.
  • “It really hadn’t been done before around here, so people wouldn’t be too sick of it.”
  • It was a favorite of Mr. Holubar, a college friend of hers, who died their freshman year.

(So glad that the #1 reason is the royalty thing, and the last one mentioned is the whole “honoring a dead friend” thing :)) I like how the article quotes the Washington Post, that Dream is “filled with love and laughter, mischief and matrimony and a whole lot of magic spells.”  It really does give you the feeling that these people have never actually seen a Shakespeare play before. Perhaps funniest of all, of course, is that the town is called “McDuffie” and nobody saw fit to pun on that.  Just imagine if they’d done Macbeth?  Everytime somebody mentions the name on stage, the audience could scream like a rock concert: “Lay on, Macduff!” “WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, wait, he’s not talking to us.  NEVER MIND!” (The entire plot of the 1980’s movie Porky’s II revolves around the conservative southerners trying to shut down a school Shakespeare production, which I believe is also Midsummer.  There’s a classic battle between principal and priest comparing who had more dirty words, Shakespeare (“what, with my tongue in your tail?”) or the Bible (something something book of Solomon).  But for the life of me I can’t find anything online. )

Summarizing Sonnets The *Right* Way

Found via Samizdat blog, this e-book entitled Threading Shakespeare’s Sonnets makes me wishI could run around to all of those other sites on the web that claim to do a paraphrase / summary of each sonnet and say, “No, you fool, this is how you do it.”  Instead of trying to paraphrase word for word, Professor Bennett instead starts a conversation about what Shakespeare is trying to accomplish in the whole – the “threads of thought”, so to speak.  Most of the commentary is in the form of questions, backed up by references to the text.  What you end up with is a commentary that assumes you already know what you’re talking about, while at the same time reminding you.  Doesn’t treat you like you’re stupid, in other words. Example (from Sonnet 17, a favorite of mine): Here he looks to the future and the possible survival of the youth despite all-powerful time. Initially he questions what “the world” will think. Will it believe the speaker’s account of the youth’s worthiness (“high deserts,” l. 2)? If there are doubts, heaven (which by rights is more just than time or the world) knows that the speaker’s verses are like a tomb or monument that conceals the youth’s real life by not showing half his good qualities. (Note the change from the treatment of the grave and tomb in Sonnets 1 and 4).
After this pat on his own back, the speaker reveals more concern with appearances. He praises the physical beauty of the youth, especially his face and eyes (which will later prove to be deceptive)….
Also nice is the regular reference back to common themes (threads) in the other sonnets. The work is presented as PDF / ebook, rather than HTML, but I’m not sure why he could not have chosen to dynamically link such references.
Still, an excellent resource and I’m glad I found it.  Go browsing for your favorite sonnet and see what it has to say.  (Rats, I’m a little disappointed in the short treatment that 130 gets!)

My Plan Is Working

Today I heard my 5 yr old singing at the lunch table.  Soon, her 3 yr old sister joined her.  This is a common occurence. What they were singing, however, caught my attention.  They were singing “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”. I said, “Katherine, what did you just say?” so fast that she thought she was in trouble.  “It wasn’t bad, sweetie, it was a good thing.  I wanted to hear you say it again.” “I was singing Shall I compare thee,” she said like she didn’t fully understand the significance.  Because, well she doesn’t.  🙂 They know that line because it is the ringtone on my phone.  My 3yr old calls it “The song your phone sings”.  My 5yr old knows it as Shakespeare.  I am anxiously awaiting the day that they can recite even more of it.  I realize the words mean nothing to them, but the memorization is a powerful tool.  After all, they can both do the Catholic Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary, even though most of the words are gibberish to them. If one of them manages a full stanza, I’ll make sure to record and post it for posterity :). Anybody needs me, I’ll be over here beside myself.

Business Analysis, ala Shakespeare

http://blogs.forbes.com/digitalrules/2007/08/only-the-bad-ne.html Forbes magazine offers, via Jerry Bowyer, the “Much Ado About Nothing Analytical Tool” for reading the business news.  It goes like this:

  1. Make two columns on your piece of paper.
  2. For everything you find that is factual, like “Hero is faithful”, write it in the left column.
  3. For everything that is more about feelings and perceptions, like “Claudio thinks Hero is not faithful”, write it in the right column.
  4. Then when you’re done, read the columns separately.

Extended out to the business news, the left shows you a picture of how the world really is, while the right shows you how the people perceive it.  Bonus points to the article for recognizing that it’s a matter of time for the right to catch up with the left.  In other words, eventually the facts do come out and people stop fooling themselves.  At least, about that set :).  By that time, a whole new set of facts has emerged for people to fool themselves.

Mr. Rogers As Macbeth

http://bookology.wordpress.com/2007/08/24/starring-mr-rogers-as-macbeth/ The above post has so much Shakespeare goodness that I don’t have the time to summarize it all.  Go read.  Right on the money that Shakespeare may be a master, but that doesn’t mean that he’s above a little poking fun.  I have not yet checked out the media files, but as they say in the geek circles, “dugg for the Branagh reference at the end.” 🙂  Enjoy!

Now That's a Review

http://sarsaparillablog.net/?p=592 Ages ago, I remember it well, I was a front end manager at the neighborhood supermarket during my freshman year of college.  The woman who worked the night shift me was a retired English professor.  We got to talking about Shakespeare (shows how long my geekery goes back, I guess) and King Lear came up.  She said, and it’s always stuck with me:  “If the entirety of human civilization were to die out tomorrow, all evidence of its existence erased save one thing, that one thing should be King Lear.”  I found it a powerful endorsement, to say the least. Allison Croggon’s review of Peter Brooks’ King lear is damned near art all by itself:  “…it seems to me that when I say something is a masterpiece, I mean that its achievement is not that it rises into some lofty empyrean sphere where history no longer exists. It’s a masterpiece because it does the opposite: because it makes a gesture so potent that it seems to draw all human experience into its gravity, because it reaches deep into individual and collective memory and hauls experience, naked and bloody, into the present.”   Go read the whole thing, you won’t regret it. 

A Shakespeare Geek's Dream

[I just realized that this story from the other day ended up on my other blog…] The other day I blogged about how bringing home a Shakespeare action figure kicked off a whole round of telling my 3 and 5 yr olds stories from Shakespeare. Yesterday I hear my 3yr old playing and she says, “The girl was on the island, and then the witch threw her in the dungeon.” “What’s the witch’s name?” I ask, nodding at my wife to “Watch this…” “Sycorax,” says my daughter. Love it. The best part is how she knows about Sycorax (the witch from The Tempest, by the way) in the first place is even better.  I don’t tell them about her, because she’s not really crucial to the main storyline.  “Daddy,” asks my 5 year old, “How many girls are in this story?” “Just one.  Miranda is the only girl.” “But in my book, I saw somebody else with long hair, and I think it’s another girl.”  I may have mentioned that I have a comic book version of The Tempest kicking around. “That’s probably one of the pirates,” I tell her. “I don’t think so,” she says, and goes to get the book. Sure enough, she’s looking at a picture of Sycorax.  So I have to explain how that’s the witch Sycorax, who ruled the island until Prospero came and kicked her off. And how she was Caliban’s mom, and mean to Ariel and put her in a tree, until Prospero rescued her.

Wait, You're Doing What Now?

“Paradox” merits a link just for the magnitude of the task she’s set herself (as an independent study, no less).  She’s writing a Shakespearean style play about the Bard’s life, based on the connections between his life and his works.  She’s got the dynamics of his marriage from Richard III, and now she’s on Merchant of Venice having seen a book entitled “Shylock and Shakespeare.” She then launches into a comparison of Portia to women in the church of Latter Day Saints, and a lengthy discussion of her own thoughts on her (someday) LDS marriage.  Quite an intriguing post. Good luck!